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True Spirituality - How to Experience Authentic Community, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
June 15, 2023 6:00 am

True Spirituality - How to Experience Authentic Community, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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June 15, 2023 6:00 am

We long to be connected with others in an authentic community relationship. But for many of us, the process of building authentic community is a mystery. Or for some, you’ve tried what you thought was an authentic community only to be burned or abused. In this message, Chip talks about how you can begin to experience true, authentic community right where you live.

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Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram

Someone has said the greatest social disease in America today is loneliness. We all long to be deeply connected. And I want you to know that God has a plan for developing genuine, beautiful, intimate relationships, and He wants you to experience that kind of connection with others. Today we're going to talk about how you can experience authentic community right now, right where you live. Stay with us.

Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. Did you know that we were all created for relationship? Whether that's with a close friend, a sibling, or a spouse, God placed that desire for connection in our hearts. Today as we continue our series, True Spirituality, Chip's going to unpack why other believers are paramount to our faith.

And if you've ever been burned or hurt by past relationships, don't ignore this message. There's some truth that'll minister to you. With that, go to Romans chapter 12, beginning in verse 9, for Chip's talk, How to Experience Authentic Community. Did you ever wonder why so many Christians get spiritually stuck? I mean, the Bible's very, very clear. It says, If any man, if any woman is in Christ, the old things pass away.

Behold, all things become new. And yet, you know, you meet people, and I mean sincere, good, I don't mean slackers, I mean people that really love God. They've seen transformation in some very significant areas, and they're even in the Bible on a regular basis, and they really want to grow, and yet they hit a ceiling, or they stall. There's just some area that just seems to, you know, the temper just never seems to get under the Spirit's control, or how they say certain things, or the way they judge people, or there's a little private eating disorder over here, or an addiction maybe even on the internet.

And then they feel terrible, and they promise God, and they recommit their life about 25 times, and then they just feel stuck. It's where Andy was when he came and talked to me, except I would have never dreamed Andy was stuck. Andy came when I was pastoring another church many, many years ago. And I met him in the first 10, 20 minutes. I thought, wow, we were really growing at the time, and we're longing for leaders, and he moved in from out of town, and I met him, met his wife. Just got to know him, and it was just like, wow, I just so got a heart for God, got up in the mornings, was spending time with God. I saw his family.

He had been through, been a Christian for quite a while, so he'd been in leadership positions in churches. And Andy was a great guy, I mean, warm and caring, and I would never have dreamed that there was a little pocket, sort of a little pocket in Andy's life that he was stuck. And he asked if we could grab a cup of coffee, and he had something he really needed to share with me.

I said, sure, Andy, be glad to. And we sat down, and he began to tell me about that compartment that had been sealed off that he tried so hard, and he was stuck. He said, you know, it started when I was about, oh, eight or nine years old, and a Sears catalog came in the mail, and I was flipping through it and found myself in the lingerie session. And then later I found some magazines underneath my dad's bed. By the time I was a teenager, I was fully addicted to at least soft porn.

When the internet happened, it was just like overwhelming, the access and the privacy that you could have. And he said, Chip, I have prayed, I've fasted, I've memorized verse, I've begged God, I'll go for a few weeks or a few months. And just my whole life, I mean, my wife, I love her, I'm absolutely committed to her, my kids, I've tried to do all, but this, I'm stuck. And then he shared with me, he said, I heard something on the radio about this group of people, and they are meeting. And he said, for about the last six months, I've been driving 45 minutes on Thursday night, and I'm meeting with this group of people, and I got unstuck. The answer to why he was stuck despite God's word and all the rest came when he met with that group, and I'll tell you a little bit more about it. But as you see on your notes, part of the answer is that the greatest seed in the greatest soil cannot grow in the wrong environment. You might write Luke chapter 8 or Mark chapter 4, parallel passages, and Jesus is talking about calling himself, he's the sower, and what he sows is the seed, and the seed is God's word, and the soil is the human hearts, the various reception that the word of God receives. And if you know the story, some is on the path, and some on the rocky soil, and it's just the condition of different people's hearts, and some where it's thorny, and others is good soil, good and honest heart, people who are really honest and really want to grow.

But here's what I want you to get. The greatest seed, God's word, in the greatest soil, a good and honest heart, cannot grow in the wrong environment. There's certain things in your life and in my life, in every believer's life, transformation won't occur no matter how much you're in the Bible, no matter how honest and desiring your heart is, apart from you being in this environment where it can occur. What I want you to see is there is a specific ecosystem or environment that God has that brings about transformation when the seed of God's word in your heart and mine is there.

And if it's not there, certain things, you just get stuck. Notice in your notes, a little biblical background here, the command of Jesus requires very specific ecosystem or environment. The very last night on the earth, he washed their feet and then he turned to them and he looked them eye to eye and he said, I want you, this is the new commandment, to love each other in the same way I've loved you.

Sacrificially, authentically, lay down your life for one another, but it requires an environment. The second is the example of Jesus requires a very specific environment. When he wanted to change the world, he started by teaching and he went and there was multitudes and thousands and thousands of people and he did miracles. But then when he wanted to get the team together that would change the world, he stayed up all night, he prayed all night and he chose 12 to be, the text says, with him. The multitudes heard the truth, the 12 learned to live the life.

There was an environment that they needed to be in for all that truth to get down on their soul and their life and their relationships. The practice of the early church and its impact argue for the same environment. You know the story, they were committed in Acts 2 to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship of gathering together and to the breaking of bread and to the Lord's supper. It says then they gathered how? In the temple courts and Peter or John or someone would preach and teach all these brand new Christians and then where?

From house to house. Finally, the church history, past and present, confirmed this specific environment for spiritual growth and transformation. And whether I could take you back to the Moravians or the Westleys or the Welsh Revival and they would get these little societies together.

Or I could take you to Korea that was, I mean, completely non-Christian five, six decades ago and the cell movement or the small group movement now spanning the earth. Here's what I want you to get, the specific environment or ecosystem in which the seed of God's word in your heart that's honest and good and wants to grow is authentic community. It's authentic community. Notice the form that it takes is a small group. I mean, the group could be three people, four people, ten people.

But that's just the form, that's the container. Never ever confuse just being in a small group with authentic community. I've been in small groups that there's no authentic community, haven't you? You ever gone to a small group and someone opens the Bible and reads a little bit and, you know, maybe you watch a little part of the DVD and someone says, well, what did you get for question four? What did you get for question seven? Oh, that's nice, that's nice. And then some deep question is asked and the answer is, oh, maybe I should probably not work so much. Oh, okay, thank you for sharing so deeply.

Are there any prayer requests? Yeah, my hip really hurts. It really hurts, you know. And then you kind of get over with that, then you get up and the ladies are over here, did you hear about that Nordstrom cell or Macy's, do you know what's going on there? And the guys who are over here are like, man, those giants are doing it now, the 49ers, I'll tell you what, that linebacker.

And then you eat a few more little treats and you get in your car and say, wasn't that great? Well, it was, but just don't call it authentic community. It's a good start, it's a connection, at least you know some people. But authentic community is deeper. Authentic community is this environment where people lay down their lives for one another. Authentic community is where you take a group of people and they say, you know what?

We're going to change the world and we're around Jesus. Authentic community is living under persecution and hearing God's word and going from house to house to support one another to live it out. In fact, it raises two very important questions. Question number one is what is authentic community?

And then question number two is how do you get it? And the answer to both those questions is in Romans chapter 12 verses 9 to 13. If you're just new with us, we're going through the chapter in Romans 12. And in verse 1 we learn that what God really wants from all of us is what? He wants us surrendered to Him, all we are, all that we have. In verse 2 we said there's an enemy of our soul, there's a world system that's trying to woo and seduce our heart away from our Savior. And we're not to be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind, to be separate from the world's values. And we looked at verses 3 through 8 and we learned that we're not to think too high or too low but to have a sober self-assessment, to know where we fit in the body.

And now what he's going to talk about is serving and love. He's going to talk about what kind of relationships are we to have as fellow believers. And if you look at your notes there, in verse 9 you're going to see that authentic community is the real you showing up. Verse 10 is going to say that the real you needs to meet real needs. And then in verse 11 he's going to say the real you needs to meet real needs but for the right reason. And then verses 12 and 13, the real you needs to meet real needs for the right reason and do it in the right way. For some of you, you're where my friend Andy was. You love God, you have a good heart, you're taking in God's word but you're stuck.

There's a ceiling. You have these outbursts of anger and you feel terrible about it. You have issues in your life that you know you don't want and you've told God I'm sorry and you want to change and you've tried hard to change but you still don't see any radical transformation. I'm telling you, this moment on this day may be God's answer to the environment in which some of those things you've struggled with so long, He can change.

But it doesn't happen alone. So let's look together, what is authentic community and maybe more importantly, how do you get it? First from verse 9, authentic community is the real you, not a projection of yourself. See, you can't have authentic community unless the real you shows up. Authentic community, he says, let love be sincere.

Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. The two characteristics of the real you showing up is one, authenticity and two, it's purity. Where the word says let love be sincere, circle the word sincere and write above it hypocrisy. Paul is borrowing from the Greek of his day. And in the Greek theater of that day, they were all male actors. And so if you were a good thespian, you could be able to throw your voice and you could play a male part, a female part, an old person, a young person.

And they dressed up in different costumes and then there would be a mask that you would wear so you would throw your voice. And Paul takes that word for the mask and that's this word. He says, let love be without a mask, without hypocrisy. Let the real you show up. Yes, you've got to be discerning and you've got to be careful of who you share the real you with. But he's saying that authentic community isn't just getting in a small group. It's when the real you showing up and you let people see who you are progressively, wisely, discerningly. In fact, John in your notes, if you were Acts chapter 5, this is important.

I mean, this is beyond important. Some people never experience this their entire Christian life and they can never figure out why they don't experience the transformation power that God has promised us in scripture. Now, I didn't grow up as a Christian. I never opened the Bible until I was 18. And so my first trip through the New Testament was like, oh, wow. I mean, really, it was like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.

I mean, I didn't know the names of stuff. And then I got to Acts and I figured out, OK, this is the early church history and, you know, Jesus ascended. He went to heaven. And then chapter two, the church is born in chapter three. You know, he and John are doing miracles and it's pretty exciting stuff. And then you get to chapter five and the church is exploding. And so there's all these needs. I mean, tens of thousands of people are now in the church in a very short amount of time.

And about 80 percent of them are slaves and a very small percentage are pretty affluent people. Like the Carrods household and others. And they did this in this time of emergency. They did this sort of unusual thing where they all came together and they said, we need to help each other. We need to be devoted to one another. And so in chapter four, it gives an example of this very wealthy man who had a piece of property in Cyprus on this island, which is the equivalent of like downtown San Francisco or Manhattan in that day. And so he sells it and he takes the money and he says, look, I mean, I don't know this for sure, you know, I got a second home, you know, this is a piece of property. You take this to meet the needs of the people in the church.

They're really hurting. And I think a buzz happened in the church where, wow, I mean, it was so sacrificial. It was so generous and people were like, boy, I guess this is what it means to love one another. And his name was Barnabas. And I think Barnabas got this reputation because they started calling him the son of encouragement. And the story goes on in Acts chapter five and jot that down because before your head hits the pillow, you ought to read it. It's not very long. It's very interesting.

But I'm a brand new Christian and I'm reading this. And so there's this young couple, I'm guessing they're young, maybe they're not young, but Ananias and Sapphira. And so they kind of look around and they think, wow, everyone's talking about Barnabas. We wish people would talk about us like that.

We sure wish people would think we're that generous and loving and kind. And so they hatched this plan. And the plan is, here's what we're going to do. We're going to sell this piece of property and we'll get the money and we'll tell people that we sold it for this much money and like we gave it all away. But we'll really keep back the money for us so we'll kind of have our cake and eat it too. We'll appear generous and loving and sacrificial, but we'll still have the major part of the money. And so, you know, he comes and talks to Peter and God reveals to Peter what's going on and Peter says, Ananias, why have you lied to the Holy Spirit? Before it was sold, it was yours.

After it was sold, it was yours. You aren't compelled to give a little or a lot. The issue is integrity. And then right there, bam, he dies. I mean, literally drops dead and the young men come and pick him up for what? His hypocrisy.

The very first sin in the church is hypocrisy and the judgment is death. His wife comes a few hours later and I'm thinking Peter's going, I sure hope she's not in on this. And so he says, Sephira, it's good to see you. How's things going? Oh, pretty good. How's the kids?

I'm adding just a little. And he says to her, so did you sell this piece of land for such and such a price? Oh, yes.

You know, Ananias, when you're married to such a generous, loving, kind, amazing husband like I have and we sacrificially have given it all away. I'm, again, reading between the lines. And Peter looks at her and I think just with sadness in his heart, he said, the young men's feet who took away your husband shall take you away as well. Bam, she dies. On the spot. And it says a great fear came among the church. Yeah, are you kidding? Now, you've got to understand, can you imagine if you've never read the Bible before and this is your first time through the New Testament and you're a brand new Christian, you're thinking, so this is what happens to hypocrites?

I'm in trouble. I mean, literally, it was like, whoa. In fact, if God was acting in this way, I think he was going to make a point. See, if hypocrisy gets in the mix, it's like leaven and bread and it spreads. And when people aren't authentic, the message of Jesus would have been wiped out within a few years. And so God wanted to demonstrate how important this was. And I often thought later when I was a pastor, if God did that for like 24 hours in the church all across America, all of us would have to turn in our pastor's badges and become morticians.

Probably a lot of us pastors would need other pastors who were doing better than us to bury us. But do you get it? Do you really get that church, quote, was never ever intended to be a group of people that come to an event and feel like in some way they're doing something morally positive because they come to an event and listen to someone talk about God and even sing a few worship songs to him and then file out and live life their own way and not be absolutely connected to one another and have a safe environment where the real you shows up? And you know why the real you doesn't show up?

The same reason the real you doesn't show up in me. He says, let love be without hypocrisy, and then it says, cling to what is good. Hate what is evil. Literally the word is abhor what is evil. It's that picture, I remember doing a word study on this, and it's a picture of being on vacation for like three or four weeks.

Whoever gets that much time, that's really hypothetical. But you've been out of town for a while, and there's a carton of milk or some fruit, and you open the carton of milk to smell it and it's, oh, have you ever done that? And the smell is so bad you want to throw up. That's this word. It says abhor evil.

Most of us are spending this. I wonder if this is wrong. How close can I get to sin without falling in? So people in counseling will ask me questions like, well, is this rating this rating or this rating in this movie? Do you think it's okay if I can do this? Or, you know, we're dating right now, and we're doing this, this, this, and this. Is that really sexual sin, or can we?

Or, you know, we have so much money, and I want to know is it the gross or is it the net, or can I take a percentage? It's kind of like how, instead of, what's it say, cling to what is good. That's completely the wrong question. The issue isn't how close can I get to sin, quote, without sinning. It's how close can I get to God?

How pure can I live? Because when you're pure, not perfect, pure, the real you can show up because you can be honest. You know, one of the most powerful and significant experiences you will ever have in your life is being in a small group of people that's really safe, that really love you, and you really love them, and the real you shows up. The real you that's making great progress, the real you with the frustrations and hurts and struggles, the real you with the real problems, and as you bring your struggles, you're not judged, you're loved, and the real you that needs help gets support, and the real you that needs accountability, and as we all do, an occasional kind of rebuke, and you know, what were you thinking?

You kind of violated our trust by that. See, that's a fundamental part of authentic community, and a lot of people never have that, and so enormous amounts of energy. What we end up doing instead of allowing God to transform us, the energy is we have to do sin management, and so we're spending all this energy trying to either hide or deal with our guilt or deal with our shape or drown it out with food or work or money, shopping or speed. This is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, and you've been listening to part one of his message, How to Experience Authentic Community, from our series, True Spirituality.

Chip will be back shortly to share some helpful application for us to think about. Did you know that the word Christian means little Christ? So when we decide to follow Jesus, we're to act as he did, with love, grace, and mercy. Unfortunately, that's not how people would describe Christians today, so how can we live more authentically and better represent Jesus to others? Well, through this study in Romans chapter 12, Chip's going to highlight a clear blueprint for what it means to be a genuine follower of Christ, learn about our value as men and women, our need for authentic community, and how we can biblically respond to the evil and injustice we encounter.

Now, if you've missed any part of this series, catch up any time on the Chip Ingram app or at livingontheedge.org. Well, Chip's back with me in studio, and Chip, for the past couple of weeks during our mid-year match, you've been talking about our emphasis on pastors, reaching the next generation, and developing discipleship resources. But I'd like you to take a step back and maybe share a bit of your heart for ministry. What keeps you going? Why do you do what you do? You know, Dave, that's an interesting question. And of course, first and foremost, you know, I believe God's called me to do this, and He's gifted me to do this, and I'm going to be obedient. But from the emotional standpoint, I just have to tell you it's the impact in people's lives.

I mean, every day people... I was at the airport just last week, and a lady looked at me kind of funny, and she walked up and said, Hi, my name's Wanda. And for the last 20-some years, my husband and I, every single morning, have listened to Living on the Edge, and it's shaped us, and it's how we raised our kids, and our kids have grown. And she just began to talk about it. And I got a letter recently from a young man that trusted Christ at 25, and had had a pretty rough life. And he writes to me and says, I've listened to every sermon you've made available over the last 16 years.

Some of them I've listened to four and five and six times. And then he goes on to share how his dad died when he was 14. And I didn't know how to be a man. I didn't know how to be a husband.

I didn't know how to be a father. And just recently, God had led him to become a pastor of a small little country church. And he just writes, pouring out his heart, I got all this just from listening to Living on the Edge.

And Dave, I got a longer email two weeks ago, and just a couple hanging on by dear life. I mean, cancer and struggles and lost jobs and pain and things that you just think, are they ever going to make it through all this? And just saying, every day we get up and we listen to God's Word through Living on the Edge. So the reason I do what I do is, God's Word doesn't return void. And by the grace of God, we teach God's Word to millions and millions and millions of people every year. And it's going across the nation and across the world, bringing some to Christ, strengthening others, and they in turn make a difference in the life of others. And when I have my down days, I take stacks of these emails and letters, and I just read them and I remind myself, it's not about you. And I love what I get to do, and we're going to keep on doing this. And that's why we're asking people to help us, why we're asking them to pray and to give so that regular people who are really hurting and need hope and help can get it, and we can give it to them together. Thanks for sharing those stories, Chip.

It's so humbling to hear how God is working. So if you'd like to join us in impacting people's lives, now is a great time to become a financial partner. Thanks to a handful of donors, every dollar we receive between now and July 7th will be doubled dollar for dollar. To send a gift, call us at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003, or go to livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap donate. And let me thank you in advance for doing whatever God leads you to do. Well, here's Chip to share some application for us to think about. You know, as we wrap up today's program, I guess the question I have for you is that if a non-Christian overheard you talking or was sort of at the next table at a coffee shop and heard you kind of talking with a friend, would they hear you talking about other people, or would they hear you talking about information?

Would it be just sports or what's on sale? Or would they kind of eavesdrop and think, wow, I wish I had a relationship with someone that was that deep, that real, that vulnerable, and that authentic? And I don't know where you're at on this, but you don't slide into it. If you don't have close friends, then you need to launch a small group. Or if your family doesn't have these kind of relationships, and don't get me wrong, I know it's hard. You've got to go there, because at the end of the day, relationships are what matter, and deep relationships that matter can't happen without authenticity. And that means I've got to get real, you've got to get real.

And what I'll tell you this, personally, is it's a little scary, and you need to be wise about who you do it with, but it'll be the greatest thing that ever happens, because when the real you shows up, and the real you gets loved, it's awesome, and that's God's plan. That's a great reminder, Chip. And let me say, here at Living on the Edge, we really believe in the power of community. And one of the best ways we encourage that is by providing small group resources. Go to livingontheedge.org and click the Store button to learn more. And whether you want to build a stronger marriage, better understand God's character, or biblically respond to our changing culture, we have something for you. Again, to learn more about any of our small group studies, go to livingonttheedge.org and click the Store button, or call us at 888-333-6003. Let us help you build some life-changing community today. Listen next time as Chip continues his series, The True Spirituality. Until then, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-15 05:38:02 / 2023-06-15 05:50:07 / 12

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